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Every Monday the Journey with Jesus posts a new essay based upon the Biblical Lectionary, a film review, a book review, and a poem or prayer.

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The Journey with Jesus: Film Reviews

Film Reviews by Dan Clendenin

Babel (2006)—MexicanBabel (2006)—Mexican

With Babel director Alejando Gonzalez Iñárritu completes his trilogy begun with Amores Perros and 21 Grams, and demonstrates just how powerful movie-making can be in the hands of an artistic genius. Iñárritu connects four deeply human stories by the tragic and unintended consequences of a random act. In the desert mountains of Morocco, two little boys shoot at a tour bus while playing with a rifle that their father bought to shoot jackals that threatened their goats. In San Diego, Susan and Richard travel to Morocco to heal their marriage but encounter tragedy on a tour bus. In Mexico, the nanny and illegal immigrant Amelia attends her son's wedding but runs afoul of the law when she tries to re-enter the United States. In Tokyo, the deaf and mute teenager Chieko searches for love in all the wrong ways to overcome the fallout of her mother's suicide and her father's emotional distance.

Babel (the title comes from Genesis 11 in the Bible) is a cinematic metaphor for our post-modern, global age, ambitious in scope and layered with multiple themes—family, the collision of cultures, poverty, helplessness before state power and petty bureaucrats, human estrangement, misinformation and miscommunication, international terrorism, and fate. Every component of this film—sound track (including an unforgettable scene in a Tokyo disco when the pounding music goes silent in order to simulate Chieko's deafness), scenery, narrative, and cinematography—combine for an overwhelming effect. Give your heart and mind to this film and its characters, and you will leave the theater on mental, spiritual, and emotional overload. In Moroccan Arabic, Spanish, Japanese, English, sign language, written notes, cell phone video and text-message, and English sub-titles (so that in many scenes the viewer knows more than the characters who do not or cannot understand what is happening).